Reshma Saujani’s Girls Who Code is an inspirational guide for young women wanting to learn about code which discusses how tomorrow’s tech workers can make a difference in the world of computer science.
By 2020, there are expected to be 1.4 million jobs in computing, and if current trends continue, a measly 4% of those jobs will be filled by women! In turn, we thought we’d seek inspiration from three women working with code at Penguin Random House.
How do you use code in your job?
My job is to check the quality of our ebooks before publication, from arranging the layout to testing them on different devices. It’s basically cracking the ebook file open and playing around with the HTML and CSS to get the best possible rendering of each book, being it a simple reflowable ebook or a more complex (and fun!) title.
What do you find most interesting about what you can do with code?
I love the hidden potential that lies inside the coding language. Each “dull” line of code you look at on screen can turn into something beautiful – a graphic novel coming to life with animations, or a cookbook with high-res images jumping out at you!
What made you decide to learn some coding?
I’m a huge Internet person, but I wanted to be less of a consumer and more of a creator, and learning coding seemed to me the way to bridge that gap. On a very macro level, I just wanted to know how it all worked, but I also knew that I wanted to be able to build a website by myself.
Coding is a brilliant skillset, and through sites like Codecademy and General Assembly, learning the basics of formative internet languages is becoming increasingly accessible. It’s a great skill to have in a myriad of industries and invaluable for creative ones.
Do you think there are more ways we could interest young girls in computer sciences?
There are a lot of organisations doing great things to get young girls interested in computer sciences, and I know coding is taught in a number of primary and secondary schools, which is brilliant. I think the best way to engage young people with computer sciences is to show them the many ways it affects their lives.
With regards to getting young girls into coding, it’s a case of making them aware of the opportunities that are out there and creating more of those opportunities. The Internet is full of female content creators and consumers; young girls have an incredible amount of influence and buying power online. I think there needs to be more done to get everyone – both young girls and people in computing jobs – to understand that a formative interest in creating content on CMS-led websites like Tumblr, which many girls have, is a hugely valuable stepping stone to things like web building, learning different coding languages and a career in computer science.
I also think that, if there are going to be 1.4 million computing jobs in the UK and only 4% held by women, then it could be the case that the industry needs to have more ambassadors. Many people, unconsciously and consciously, adhere to the adage ‘you can’t be what you can’t see,’ and it’s important that young women know that they absolutely have a place in the industry should they want one.
How do you interact with code as a Digital Producer?
As a Digital Producer, my job is to work very closely with developers, animators and UX designers to create products from scratch. While I don’t work directly in coding myself, my job involves working closely with developers to understand the limits of what technically can and can’t be done to make the best products for our consumers.
Would you like to see more girls aspiring to work in tech?
Definitely. I think inclusivity across any industry is important but particularly for tech, which is predominantly male dominated. Diversity is crucial for helping an industry reflect the society it is a part of and I’d love for more girls to feel like they can get involved in more techy roles, particularly developing and working with code.